A day after Salt Lake City police shot and killed a man whose family claim he was unarmed, questions about the shooting remain unanswered.
South Salt Lake police are investigating the shooting because it occurred within the city, but near the border with Salt Lake City. Officers have not yet said whether they recovered a weapon at the scene.
“They’re here to protect and serve. More like shoot and kill,” said Jerrail Taylor, Dillon Taylor’s older brother. “Anybody in this house or anybody on the streets, if we kill someone, we’re doing 25 years to life in prison. I’d like this cop to lose his job and do the same amount of time like a regular human being.”
Dillon Taylor, 20, who is from Salt Lake, was exiting 7-Eleven with his brother and cousin, Adam Thayne, around 7 p.m. on Monday, when Salt Lake City police arrived, responding to a report of a man waving a gun in the area.
The officers ordered the men to the ground. Two of them complied, but Dillon, who police say matched the suspect’s description, did not go down.
“It came in as a 911 call that there was a man with a gun,” said South Salt Lake Police Sgt. Darrin Sweeten. “He was verbally challenged and ultimately was shot.”
Dillon’s brother and cousin claim they were on their way to visit his parents’ graves and that Dillon was surprised by the police presence. He was not aggressive, they said.
“He had headphones in, and he couldn’t hear [anything], and then they finally surrounded him,” Jerrail said. “They’re like, ‘Get on the ground,’ and [he] pulled up his pants and [they] shot him.”
Thayne believes police might have thought his cousin was reaching for a gun when, in reality, he grabbed his cell phone.
A witness’s video shows police yelling for the two men to remain on the ground as Thayne repeatedly screams that they have shot his cousin.
Family said Dillon had had struggles throughout his teenage and adult life, including a criminal past, after losing his parents at the age of 12.
They hope to remember him as a loyal friend and devoted father-to-be. His girlfriend is just a couple months pregnant, Jerrail said.
[Editor’s Note: This story indicates that the officer who shot Dillon Taylor is “not white.”]